Heather left for a quick run home to Surrey this morning. She’s been putting off getting fresh clothes because she hates to leave eight – year – old Melissa alone, and Melissa doesn’t do well with her Mom gone. She retreats under the covers, pulling them over her bald head. The nurses know to get their business done with Melissa when her mom is there because once her mom is gone she won’t come out for anyone, batting with little fists if they try to pull the covers away.
After a few hours Heather returns but she stands outside Melissa’s room facing the wall, and her back heaves with quiet sobs. She tells me, “My house was broken into!” The tv, vcr, computer and jewelry were just some of the things that were stolen. She wipes at a torrent of tears. “This is just too much to handle.” The police said they will do their best, but may not be able to recover any of it.
Nicholas’ room is across the hall. He’s outraged when I tell him. “That’s just terrible! There has to be someone who can help them.” He’s thinking of our caring community at home.
Of all the people to rob, it has to be a single mother with a sick little girl. People will want to help. I convince Heather to let me write a note to British Columbia Television (BCTV) and use the fax machine in Bridie’s school room.
A few days have passed. Melissa’s tummy hurts, badly. She writhes in agony, but she fights having anyone touch her. It’s gotten to where even Heather can’t get her daughter to cooperate with the nurses and any procedure takes a few people to hold a sick, but still very strong when she’s angry, little girl. Heather says, “This is different. Something is really wrong with Melissa. It’s more than her just being fed up with this bullshit, and over being poked and prodded. I keep saying that, but nobody is doing anything about it!”
As luck would have it, this is the day a woman wearing a skirt and holding a microphone, and a man with a big camera on his shoulder are at the nursing station asking where Melissa’s room is.
Melissa will have none of it. “No!” Her little fingers are clamped on the blankets Heather is attempting to pull off her daughter’s head. The woman with the microphone cajoles, “Come on Melissa. We just want to ask you a few questions.”
Sitting on the bed Heather looks up with frustrated blue eyes and asks, “Can’t you just talk to me? She’s afraid of your big camera and lights.” She holds up a hand against the glaring spotlight directed at Melissa’s bed.
From across the hall Nicholas in his bed hears the commotion. Through his open door he yells, “I’ll talk! She’s my friend! Come here and talk to me, I’ll tell you what happened!”
Doors are beginning to open. Curious and disturbed parents look out. Nurses are gathering in front of the station concerned we are going to wake every sleeping patient on the ward. The camera crew is in Missy’s doorway and I’m in the hallway between Nick and Missy’s rooms.
My face flushes. “Nick!” I hiss in a loud whisper, “Don’t yell.”
“Go away!” Melissa’s muffled voice comes from under the covers. Heather sighs.
“Can’t you talk to Nicholas?” She asks the woman reporter.
BCTV left. They told Heather they were not interested in the story unless they could have Melissa on camera, and while they walked away Nicholas lost it, his voice carried past the nursing station, “Don’t leave! I wanna help! Don’t be scared Melissa! You can talk to them! It won’t hurt!”
Heather is raising Missy without much help from her absent husband and will not be able to replace what was stolen.
Nicholas was super choked, “Stupid BCTV!”
They missed a beautiful story about two sick little kids caring what happens to the other.